Category Archives: family

I’m going for a long walk in 2017

Mark is turning 17 this year on Victoria Day long weekend.  I had suggested we head to Edmonton and go to the mall, grab dinner on Bourbon Street, and you know the routine.  Oliver was ecstatic and overjoyed.  Mark sat there, took everything in and said, “how about we go camping?”.  Oliver looked crushed.

We have a lot of discussions around the house that start with, “Okay, which direction do we go then?  North, south, east, or west?”  Prince Albert National Park is north.  Elk Island National Park was west.  Winnipeg was the east option.  South was Grasslands National Park.

Saskatchewan_-_Grasslands_National_Park_02

I like the idea of Prince Albert National Park but not on the long weekend.  It is both too busy and not enough stores or restaurants open yet.  Elk Island was inviting but no one was feeling it.  Winnipeg is a good idea but I didn’t feel like driving that far for the weekend.  Neither did Wendy or Mark.  So it is Grasslands National Park and a few days of hiking ahead of us.  Hopefully we don’t get charged by a bison or bit by a rattlesnake.

The next trip is going to be a more complicated one.  We are spending July 1st in Yoho National Park at Lake O’Hara exploring one of the most beautiful spots on earth.  It is restricted access and you aren’t allowed to drive into it.  The initial plan was to camp in there but after looking at what the campground is like (really, really small), we are going to stay in Lake Louise and drive into Yoho National Park for the first bus every morning and take the last one out every night.

Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park

 

If you are wondering why Wendy and I are working our butts off at the gym four days a week, it is to prepare ourselves for this trip and the climbing it will entail.

Later in August, we are planning to hit the road for a more traditional family holiday in Banff and Yoho again.  The logistics of this trip are still being worked out but right now it is a bit of a makeup trip after I got so sick last summer and almost didn’t go.  I was too weak to much of anything until our last full day there.

  • Sunday: Drive to Exshaw, Alberta and hike Jura Canyon and then push on and make camp at the Johnston Canyon campground
  • Monday: Hike up to Lake Agnes Tea House:  Order a tea, drink a tea, and the push on and climb the Big Beehive.  Feel like a bunch of bad asses for climbing two mountains.
  • Tuesday: Back to Lake Louise and head to The Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House.  Order a tea, drink a tea and then push on to see some receding glaciers and then explain to Mark and Oliver the realities of climate change is destroying the earth.
  • Wednesday: Rockbound Lake near Castle Mountain.  The tea houses are all about Wendy.  This is Mark’s hike.
  • Thursday: Get up early and head into Yoho where we will hike to Twin Falls Tea House.  This is what happens when Wendy picks the hikes.  The destinations all end in a “cup of tea”
  • Friday: Oliver and I are picking out the attraction on this day.  We want to take the A Walk in the Past hike in Yoho National Park.  It is a hike littered with old steam engines and boilers that exploded on the mountain and were tossed aside and are still there.  I told Oliver this is where the remains of Thomas the Tank Engine rest.  This is what happens in the real world when you upset Sir Toppenhat. 
  • I have no idea what Saturday will bring.  Mark and I were looking at options and all of them had large amounts of grizzly bears on the trail during the time when we are going to visit.  It may need some more work.

Finally Wendy and I are married for 20 years this fall.  We are going to spend a week in Banff with just the two of us at the Siding 29 Lodge.  We don’t have much for plans other than we are going to hike up Tunnel Mountain on our anniversary.

Tunnel Mountain in Banff

Neither one of us have hiked around Banff so we tentatively have plans to check out Lake Minnewanka and some ghost towns around Banff.  When I add all of these up, it’s about 70 kilometers in hikes.  Our most ambitious year ever.

Twas the night before Christmas

It’s late on Christmas Eve.  Wendy, Mark and I are just chilling out and having some night time tea.  Oliver has already gone to bed.  I doubt he is asleep but he is in bed.  I assume he is filing a formal protest as we speak.

It was a busy day today.  I had to go to work which wasn’t so bad and we closed up early.  It’s one of those things that you never think about but then Wendy shows up and the day is done early which is nice.  Lots of coffee made the day go by faster.

Wendy was off work today so she hung out with Mark and Oliver until Mark had to go to work.  Wendy and Oliver took Marley to the Pierre Radisson Dog Park a few times in an effort to tire her out.  After much running and playing, she still wanted to go back again as we all were ready to call it a night.  She is a dog with a strong internal clock. 

A can of Diet CokeSwan PizzaWhen it was time to leave work, Wendy picked me up and we had two pizzas from Swan Pizza ordered and set to arrive at 6:00 p.m.  While Mark and Oliver wanted to open presents right away, we ate first, poured some coffee and opened the gifts around 7:30 p.m. 

Once that was done, we opened out our Christmas stockings which had all of the usual fair of new socks, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste along with some candies and treats for everyone.

We exchanged gifts after that.

Mark

Wendy and I gave Mark a new Head snowboard and bindings.  That kind of blew him away but he was understandably thrilled and excited.

Head Snowboard

Oliver gave his brother some good snowboard boots so he is ready to hit the slopes.

Marley gave him some Ryder sunglasses and a thing to keep them on his face when he wipes out while snowboarding.  There were some good gloves in there as well.

Ryder Sunglasses

61fK-6 NL8L._SL1000_Hutch gave him a red GSI Outdoors Java commuter mug.  Making good coffee was a struggle last summer and with Wendy, Mark, and I all having one, this should make some adventures this summer start out much better.

Since Mark wants to do some adventure travel after he graduates high school, we gave him a copy of Alastair Humphreys book Grand Adventures.

Grand Adventures by Alastair Humphreys

To go along with the book, I got Mark a large duffle bag which is perfect for travel.


Oliver

Wendy and I have him a Acer Iconia 7 tablet.  He was pretty excited since all he wants to do is text Wendy, Mark and myself.  We set up Google Hangouts on our phones and he had a blast messaging us all night, even though we were in the same room.  Now that he has gone to bed, I am installing the apps that he will need and want.   We also got him a 16 gb MicroSD card for it.  To make it easier for him to annoy us, we gave him a Bluetooth speaker so he can rock out all night long.

Acer Iconia 7" Tablet

A friend of ours gave Oliver her old snowboard which meant that we just had to get him some boots.  A quick trip to Larry’s Skate Exchange and we found some great ones at a remarkably low price which were there under the tree.

Mark gave him a Huskies Athletics hoodie and a few games for his Nintendo 3DS.

Marley gave him a pair of snowboarding goggles and some warm gloves.

Wendy also gave him the new Jedi Academy book which I gave him his own website at olivercooper.org.  He’s happy to have a blog at last and I enjoy doing stuff like for him.  I am using Blogger to power it which means he can control it and post to it from both the web and the Blogger app.

Santa Claus brought him a Bluetooth speaker and some Wicked Raven headphones.  He can play Spotify loudly or quietly.  I hope he uses his headphones but I have my doubts.


Wendy

I gave Wendy a 10.1 inch RCA Android tablet with a keyboard.  She was looking for a netbook but in the end she felt a the Android tablet was a better option.  She had seen our friend Janice’s Microsoft Surface and loved the form factor.  After debating over her options, she decided that an  Android version is what she needed.

RCA Viking Pro Android Tablet

Mark was aware of what I was going to get her and get her a handcrafted leather case from India.

He also picked up some other things like a stainless steel Samsung USB drive, a micro SD card for extra storage, and Moleskine daytimer and a nice pen.

81lLpXNwiHL._SL1500_Oliver went in a different direction and got Wendy a new camping cookset.  Not only that be since he already got Wendy a GSI Outdoors Java Press for her birthday, she would need a nice tea kettle for camping, a new 2 litre pot, and a camping frying pan.


Me

Wendy bought me an Acer Iconia 7” Tablet as well.  I don’t use a tablet that much but I do use it for consuming information.  The size works for me and I think I’ll use it a fair amount.  Of course Oliver went nuts as it means that we have the same tablet as each other and Mark.  Oliver thought that was incredibly cool.

Mark got me some badass carbon fibre trekking poles.  He was with me when I saw them and he decided to pick them up for me.   He also gave me a Rode VideoMic Micro for my Olympus OM-D E-M5 II.

Oliver got me a new Swiss Gear backpack.  In it I found a pen, notebook, and a knife from Gerber.  I have written about our travel bags that are already backed and ready to go before, he just figured I needed an upgrade as my backpack was showing some age.

Santa Claus realized the household had transitioned from Apple OSX and iOS to Android/PC and so the old guy gave me a Google Chromecast to replace my Apple TV.

Marley gave me a Philips Multipurpose Grooming Kit.  Apparently it was a hint to keep the goatee a little tighter trimmed.  Fair enough.


After the gifts were open, Wendy served up Sex in a Pan for dessert.  The boys devoured all of that and now Oliver is off to bed and I am installing apps from the Google Play store for Oliver and Wendy.  I may need more  bandwidth.

Christmas Dinner Recipe Guide

Wendy has been sharing and posting recipes for years, several of those have been holiday recipes.  For those of you looking for recipes, here are some of her recipes that may make planning for the day a lot easier. 

Appetizer Recipes

  • BLT Dip Recipe
  • Bruschetta Recipe
  • Baked Parmesan Dip Recipe
  • Sriracha Veggie-Cheese Balls and Sauce Recipe
  • Slow-Cooker Spicy Queso Dip Recipe
  • Bacon Ranch Layered Spread Recipe
  • Buffalo Chicken Cheese Dip Recipe
  • Norwegian Lefse Recipe
  • Main Dish Recipes

    • Here is how to carve a turkey

    Dessert Recipes

    Kristy Dean

    I attended the funeral of my friend Kristy Dean today.  I got to know her through Jerry and Gloria Reimer and we like many others became her friend.  As Gloria said today, she crashed there for a night but stayed there for 10 years.  With Jerry and Gloria being godparents to Mark and Oliver and the closest thing Wendy and I have to parents, Kristy was close to us as well.

    Today her sister and Gloria gave stirring eulogies.  I came home and went looking through some photos and found some favorites.  I thought I would post some here and tell some stories.

    Kristy, Gloria and Wendy

    We spent most Christmas Day’s with Reimers and even if they were travelling, we always celebrated Christmas, even if it was early.  We also spent a lot of other holidays together.  Later on I hired her at the Salvation Army and The Lighthouse where she worked the front desk which if you know anything about shelters, is the most demanding part of the job.

    Hiring a friend is always challenging but Kristy was great and found that balance between giving me absolutely no respect as her boss and getting the job done.  I appreciate that in any front desk staff.

    She had changed a lot by the time she worked with me.  She was strong willed, loud, and could be defiant, all skills someone needs working with a challenging population.  She also took those strengths and used them to advocate for people.  Many time she would call me with a course of action she wanted me to take on Monday for someone who needed help. 

    Kristy was a quick thinker and good problem solver.  She understood the big picture and the system we were in well.  That made her a great employee but also someone I could talk with about the job because she understood the inherent frustrations in the system. 

    Kristy and Jacqueline Kroeker

    She was a passionate Edmonton Oilers fan and I am wearing a Calgary Flames watch while typing this so our friendship was based on either making fun of each other or just prolonged times of sadness when both Calgary and Edmonton sucked at the same time.  We went over the Reimers one time and Kristy just said, “I have nothing to bug you about.  It’s just pathetic how both of them are playing.”

    We did set that aside momentarily on Christmas Day and we would often exchange Edmonton Oiler and Calgary Flames merchandise on Christmas.  Just as we were both enjoying our gifts, the other would say something like, “I found it in the trash at Walmart.  They tried giving them away but no one wanted it.  I got you one.”  Those truces never lasted long.

    Kristy Dean and her Nikon

    I like to think I won the exchange at least once.  Kristy was a photographer and used a Nikon camera.  I bought her a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens mug.  The box hides the fact that it is a mug really well and Kristy thought I had bought her a $2000 lens.  I was like, “Umm, we aren’t that close of friends”. 

    So she then realized it was a mug and while laughing about it was still really happy.  The weird thing about this mug is that the top seals totally, there is no hole in the top which makes it really annoying.  She told me a couple of months later that it drove her crazy every single time she tried to take a drink from it.  She cursed my name every time and knew I would be pleased with that.  I was.

    Kristy Dean playing charades

    Kristy Dean playing charades

    The above photos of Kristy is my favorite of her.  It was Christmas Day 2013 and for some reason after Christmas meal at the Reimers, Jerry and Gloria had somehow talked us into playing charades.  The look on Kristy’s face is of her disgust with her losing team mates.   If I remember correctly, her disgust was appropriate.  Her team was horrible.

    Someone asked me today if Kristy was close to the boys.  She was close enough that when we brought Oliver home from the hospital, we stopped by Jerry, Gloria, and Kristy’s place before we stopped home.  She tormented Mark for a decade and he loved every minute of it.

    The day before she passed away, I was looking for something to get her for Christmas.  I was going to give her an Edmonton Oilers Goalie Mask because I thought it was cool and I knew she would love one.

    Edmonton Oilers Goalie Mask

    I decided to day that I am going to pick one up anyways. None of us are quite ready to leave her memory behind yet.

    Christmas Gift Guide for the Men in Your Life | 2016 Edition

    It’s Wendy.  I’m back to do my annual Christmas Gift Guide for the men in your life, whether that be your husband/boyfriend/father or even some grown children.

    Keeping Track of Time

    Let’s start with watches.  Nothing quite turns a boy into a man like a good watch.  Here are some great ideas any guys, whether that are always connected or love to get away from it all.

    Pebble Smart Watch

    Pebble Smart Watch

    It does almost everything an Apple Watch does at a fraction of the cost.  It also works with Apple iOS and Android devices.

    • Notifications at a glance: calendar events, text and emails, incoming calls, and more.
    • Includes Pebble Health, a built-in activity and sleep tracker with daily reports and weekly insights.
    • Built-in microphone for voice notes and quick replies (sending voice replies works with AT&T iPhone accounts and most Android apps including SMS, Hangouts, Gmail, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and hundreds more. iOS voice features for other carriers will be available in a future software update)
    • 9.5mm thin chassis with curved, ergonomic profile.
    • Marine Grade Stainless Steel bezel with PVD coating, matte and polished finishes.
    • Tough, 2.5D glass display
    • Tactile buttons for easy, eyes-free control.
    • Magnetic charging with cable that works in any USB port.
    • Vibrating motor for discreet alerts and alarms (wake yourself, not your loved ones).
    • Includes 22mm Silicone Strap and USB Charging Cable.
    • Battery life up to 7 days
    • Water resistant to 30 meters
    • Always on, color e-paper display with LED backlight

    Another popular option is the Fitbit Blaze Smartwatch.

    Invicta Men’s ‘Pro Diver’ Quartz Stainless Steel Casual Watch

    Invicta Men's 'Pro Diver' Quartz Stainless Steel Casual WatchLuxury and quality don’t always have to cost a fortune. The Invicta Pro Diver men’s dive watch features a 43mm wide and 12mm thick solid stainless steel case with a unidirectional rotating blue accented silver tone bezel and textured screw down crown. Invicta is powered by Japanese TMI PC32A quartz movement. This stylish watch also features a sharp looking blue dial with white accents silver tone luminous hands and dot hour markers along with the date display function, scratch resistant flame fusion crystal and water resistant to 200 meters. The Invicta Pro-Diver watch comes in an original Invicta gift box and is backed by a 5 years limited warranty.

    I bought one for Jordon for his 40th Birthday and it’s looks amazing and draws all sorts of attention whenever he goes out with it.

    Timex Men’s Atlantis 100 Watch

    Timex Men's Atlantis 100 WatchDiscover the sleek, streamlined design of the Timex Men’s Atlantis 100 Watch. Features include a 100-hour chronograph with lap or split in large digits, an easy-to-use 100-hour countdown timer, a 99-lap counter, a daily alarm, day and month calendar, and a two time zone setting ideal for traveling. Thanks to the Indiglo night-light system, the digital face is easy to read, even in low-light situations. A strong black resin case and stationary black resin bezel hold a durable acrylic window to protect the dial, while a black resin strap with a buckle clasp make this watch ideal for exercising. This versatile timepiece uses precise quartz movement and is water-resistant up to 165 feet (50 meters).

    Both Jordon and Mark have (different versions of this) watch and it is their everyday watch which is great for work, looks good if they are going out and tough enough when they are hiking the trail or we are camping.

    For even less money, check out the attractive, tough and affordable Casio Illuminator watch.

    Moleskine Weekly Planner

    Jordon has the 2016-2017 version and loves it.  What makes this dayplanner better than all of the other ones out there, it has your weekly calendar on one side of the page with a full page of notes on the other side.  It is a good enough planner to make Jordon give up Google Calendar and go back to pen and paper.

    Mokeskine Weekly Planner

    Parker Urban Rollerball Pen

    Parker Urban IM Rollerball Pen

    A great daytimer is nothing without a great pen.  This pen is nice and durable enough that he will always want it with him but affordable enough that he won’t be afraid to leave home with it.


    Getting Personal

    From there, let’s look at some personal gifts like an amazing shaving kit or as the British call them, a dopp kit.  You can spend a lot of money on a dopp kit of use an old pencil case.  Personally I find the Kenneth Cole Reaction Shaving Kit to be the perfect balance between the two and you get a bag he will use for the rest of his life while being a good value.

    Kenneth Cole Reaction Shaving Kit

     Gillette Fusion Proglide Power Razor With Flexball Handle TechnologyDon’t just get him a Dopp Kitt, inside it place some essential shaving products that he will love.  The market leader is the Gillette Fusion Proglide Power Razor With Flexball Handle Technology.  It’s a razor any man would love and if he doesn’t have one, it’s a great upgrade.

    Jordon has preferred the Schick Hydro 5 Power since it came out.  The blades are quite a bit less expensive then Gillette’s yet they last a long time and the shave is a great.  Schick Hydro 5 Power Razor for Men

    If you are looking to save some money up front and down the road, I recommend the Magnum M5 razor.  We got one for Mark and he loves it.  5 blades, good shave and a package of blades lasts a long time.

    Magnum M5 razor

     Kingsley Shave Soap Bowl with Lid Dark Wood: This will last for decades and he’ll think of you every time he uses it.

    Kingsley Shave Soap Bowl with Lid Dark Wood

    Henry Cavendish Himalaya Shaving Soap with Shea Butter & Coconut OilHenry Cavendish Himalaya Shaving Soap with Shea Butter & Coconut Oil: He may not admit how good this feels on his skin but he will appreciate it.

    Escali 100% Pure Badger Shaving Brush: The bristles on this brush are made from genuine pure badger hair, for a soft and luxurious feeling every time he shaves.

    Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Eau de Toilette Spray: For when he goes out and wants to smell nice but still let the world know he is still tough enough to conquer it.

    Slim Leather Wallet with ID Window

    61EyS1Bcf L._UX466_

    Jordon switched to one of these a few years ago and we later gave one to Mark for his birthday.  It easily holds a bank card, a couple of credit cards, drivers license, health card, and a few others without causing your pain if you sit on it or irritate you if it is in your front pocket.

    Kenneth Cole Reaction Leather Briefcase

    Kenneth Cole Reaction Leather Briefcase

    A great looking and affordable high quality leather briefcase.  He will take it with him everywhere.


    Out for an Adventure

    Victorinox Swiss Army EvoWood 14 Swiss Army Knife

    Jordon’s grandfather had a wooden pocket knife that he carried with him every day for his entire life.  This is the knife that your guy will carry will carry in his pocket each and every day of his life.

    Victorinox Swiss Army EvoWood 14 Swiss Army Knife

    Not only that but if the fate of the world does happen to depend on him, he will be prepared with the same knife that MacGuyver had with him.  If you are looking for a classic red Swiss Army Knife, check out this version.

    Gerber Bear Grylls Compact Scout Knife

    Gerber Bear Grylls Compact Scout KnifeJordon and Mark aren’t big fans of Bear Grylls (they one time watched him bite the head off a large frog for no real reason) but they love this knife.  It is small enough to carry in a pocket or toss in a bag that is ready and packed for adventure.  Jordon’s knife has  been used to make kindling for a fire, cutting some branches to cook with and is what he grabbed when we a wolf came into our campsite.   He also uses it for work and carries it pretty much everywhere.  If the guy you are shopping for takes pride in being self-reliant and the one that fix any problem, he needs a good knife.  It’s one of those gifts that not only will he appreciate but when he bails everyone out because he has it, you will too.

    Solo Stove & Pot Combo

    Solo Stove & Pot Combo

    Jordon has a Primus Classic Stove and Mark has a MSR Pocket Rocket stove but they fuel canisters.  This does not.  It burns twigs which are always around if you are camping and boils water in under 10 minutes..  It is a Gear of the Year winner from Backpacker Magazine and is ideal if the guy you are shopping for loves the outdoors.

    Pentax UP 10×21 Binoculars

    Pentax UP 10x21 Binoculars

    Jordon gave me a pair of these for Mother’s Day and a pair for Mark for his birthday.  Jordon keeps a small pair of binoculars in this bag all of the time for when we are hiking and they are great for watching Mark’s football games at SMF Field.  The 10 times magnification is great for almost everything and they are good for almost any kind of daylight viewing.


    Chilling out at Home

    We live in a small house in Saskatoon.  We don’t have the room for a vast sound system or home theatre system.  So if we are entertaining at home, we want a great room filling audio system in a small package and good headphones when we want to escape into our work or a great playlist.

    Let’s start with some headphones.

    Bose SoundTrue II Headphones

    Bose SoundTrue II Headphones

    Bose Sound True around-ear headphones II were engineered with advanced Bose technologies. They feature exclusive TriPort technology so your music sounds deep, clear and full of life.  The headphones feature a softly padded headband that distributes weight evenly across your head, and memory foam creates a gentle cushion around your ears. So they stay light and comfortable whether or not you are working in a co-working space or just relaxing to a long playlist at home.

    Sennheiser HD 202 II Headphones

    If the cost of the Bose headphones are too much, check out a long lasting resident of these gift guides, the Sennheiser HD 202 II Headphones are a great value.

    Sennheiser HD202II Headphones

    The HD 202 MK II closed, dynamic hi-fi stereo headphones are the ideal partner for DJs and powerful modern music, providing great insulation against ambient noise and a vivid, crisp bass response. The rugged lightweight headphones have a secure fit and can be used for both mobile sources and home (mini) hi-fi systems. When out and about, a convenient cord take-up lets you adjust the headphone cable to the required length.

    For when we want some room filling sound, we use our Bluetooth speakers.  It is discrete enough to never be noticed but has enough oomph to fill the room.

    Bose Wave Music System IV

    Bose Wave Music System IV

    This is the sound system you have been looking for.  For almost all of us, the first time we ever heard one of these, we went, “Oh, that is what the big deal is about.”  The latest Bose Wave System IV works with your home Wi-Fi network and Bluetooth devices so you can play almost anything you can imagine. Use it to stream millions of songs from music services like Spotify and Pandora, thousands of Internet radio stations and your stored music library. There’s also a CD player and AM/FM radio tuner. So you can hear whatever you want with room-filling sound-all from an easy-to-use system that now comes in a new design.

    It is the kind of gift that not only will he love but so will the entire household.

    Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot

    You really want an Amazon Echo

    I don’t know how to best describe Amazon Echo other than comparing it to either the computer on Star Trek or Jarvis from Ironman.  It is like Siri for your home.

    Setting up an Amazon Echo

    It started out as a music player but it keeps getting smarter and smarter.  Check this page out for what it can do now (and it keeps getting smarter in the future).  Of course if you aren’t looking to play music, check out the Amazon Echo Dot.   At $50 you can have them all over your house.  If two of them hear you, the closest one answers.  It connects with everything to your phone to your furnace.  Again with it being cloud based, the upgrades happen online so you aren’t a slave to adding new hardware all of the time.

    Anyone who owns a smartphone or tablet would probably enjoy owning a portable Bluetooth speaker. The best deliver sound quality that’s good enough for casual music listening, podcasts, and Internet radio. Portable Bluetooth speakers have a rechargeable battery that lets you easily take them all around the house or to the park or the beach. We’ve found they make hotel rooms feel more like home and long business trips much more bearable.

    UE Roll 2

    Here is what The Wirecutter has to say about the UE Roll 2

    The original UE Roll was our unanimous pick for best portable speaker when we tested 30 new models last year, and we feel just as strongly about its replacement, the UE Roll 2. Like the original, the UE Roll 2 sounds full, with smooth reproduction of everything from bass notes tUE Roll 2 Bluetooth Speakero cymbals, and it plays loud enough to fill a hotel room or a beach blanket with sound. It’s so watertight it will survive being dunked one meter underwater for 30 minutes. Seven months of worldwide traveling with the original Roll have only confirmed our love of this design. The only real downside is that it lacks a speakerphone function.

    Bose SoundLink Mini II

    Bose SoundLink Mini II Bluetooth Speaker System

    For those who want even better sound quality and louder volume and don’t need their portable Bluetooth speaker to be super-portable, the Bose SoundLink Mini II is worth the cost (roughly twice the price of the Roll 2). It’s shocking to hear how much better the SoundLink Mini II sounds than most of its competitors, with clearer voices and a fuller sound closer to what you’d expect to hear from a decent small stereo system. It also plays loud enough to drown out a small dinner party. At 1½ pounds the SoundLink Mini II is perfect for lugging along on family vacations or from room to room in the house but probably heavier than backpackers and business travelers will want to carry.

    Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Earbuds Headphones with Mic/Controller

    31KkJHBsooLThese are always dirt cheap and available everywhere so it’s easy to dismiss them as not that good but The Wirecutter’s blind hearing test of in ear headphones consistently rates these near the top of their rankings despite their low price.  So if you are on a budget but are looking for a great gift for a traveler, hiker, or someone who is always on the move, you can do a lot worse than a pair of these headphones.

    Harman Kardon Soundsticks III 2.1 Channel Multimedia Speaker System with Subwoofer

    Harman Kardon Soundsticks III 2.1 Channel Multimedia Speaker System with Subwoofer

    A 6-inch, 20-watt downward-firing powered subwoofer. Eight 1-inch full-range transducers. Plug-and-play compatibility with virtually any multimedia device. And stunning industrial design that perfectly matches the clarity of the sound. The Harman Kardon SoundSticks III desktop sound system brings a new level of excitement to music, games and movies with a minimum of wiring and looks spectacular doing it.


    Something to Watch

    Acer Iconia One 7” Tablet

    Looking for an affordable tablet?  The Acer Iconia One 7” Tablet is the one you are looking for.

    Acer Iconia One 7” Tablet

    Another slightly more expensive option is the Asus Zenpad 8” tablet.  Of course you will want a discrete case to carry it in.  I recommend this one that looks like a manila envelope.

    Manila Envelope 7" Tablet Case by Boxwave

    Jordon got one of these when he bought a Kindle a few years back.  They protect the tablet well and people smile whenever he pulls a tablet out of one.

    Apple iPad Mini 4

    If you want to go higher end, check out the Apple iPad Mini 4.

    Apple iPad Mini 4

    Capture the Action

    Why does he wants a drone?  Why do you want a drone?  Check out this video of a New Zealand family vacation which I love.

    How much fun would one of these be to document a family vacation or a long weekend away.  Our household is a big fan of Casey Neistat and his use of drones do such a great job of capturing his adventures and they are so easy to use.

    DJI Mavic Pro

    DJI Mavic Pro Drone

    One of the best drones one the market as well as more affordable than other options on the market.  Since it folds up, it is small enough to fit in a shoulder bag and carry with you always.  A 27 minute battery life gives you the time to capture all of the footage you want.

    Yuneec  Breeze Drone

    Yuneec Breeze Drone

    The Yuneec Breeze is another affordable drone that is designed for social media.  If the DJI Mavic is there to capture cities and adventures, the Yuneec Breeze exists to capture you.  It’s even easier to fly, works well inside and out, and has a 4k video camera to capture everything.

    It doesn’t have the performance that the DJI Mavic does but it costs about half as much.

    Around the House

    Survival Seed Vault

    So if you are convinced the world will end in 2017 or 2018, you probably already have this.  For the rest of us, this seed vault offers a wide variety of seeds to take you guys garden to the next level.

    Survival Seed Vault

    These 20 fruits and vegetables provide an excellent source of nutrients you need for a well-balanced diet. Each seed variety is individually sealed to remove air and moisture and will store for five years and even longer at temperatures below 75 F.

    What’s Inside the Survival Seed Vault:

    • Blue Lake Bush Beans <150 seeds
    • California Wonder Bell Pepper < 70 seeds
    • Market more Cucumber < 150 seeds
    • Scarlet Nantes Carrot < 800 seeds
    • Parris Island Cos Romaine Lettuce < 900 seeds
    • Golden Acre Cabbage < 530 seeds
    • Detroit Dark Red Beet < 260 seeds
    • Lincoln Sweet Pea < 100 seeds
    • Stowell’s Evergreen Sweet Corn < 260 seeds
    • Beefsteak Tomato < 180 seeds
    • Champion Radish < 320 seeds
    • Green Sprouting Broccoli < 500 seeds
    • Waltham Butternut Winter Squash < 100 seeds
    • Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach < 260 seeds
    • Yellow Sweet Spanish Onion < 145 seeds
    • Black Turtle Bean < 70 seeds
    • Hales Best Cantaloupe < 70 seeds
    • Snowball Cauliflower < 285 seeds
    • Black Beauty Zucchini < 50 seeds
    • Crimson Sweet Watermelon < 60 seeds

    Manly Cookbooks

    If you guy likes to cook, raise his game with one of these fun cookbooks this Christmas.  I picked a barbecue/entertaining focus because not only will this encourage him to help out around the house but he’ll have some friends over to eat all of the food he has proudly made.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

    Cooking with Beer CookbookGordon Ramsay's Sunday Lunch: 25 Simple Menus to Pamper Family and Friends Essential Company's Coming Guys' CookbookEat Like a Man: The Only Cookbook a Man Will Ever NeedBig Bob Gibson's BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue JointPaul Kirk's Championship Barbecue: Barbecue Your Way to Greatness With 575 Lip-Smackin' Recipes from the Baron of BarbecueSouthern Living Ultimate Book of BBQ: The Complete Year-Round Guide to Grilling and SmokingThe Hell's Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes from the KitchenGordon Ramsay's Home Cooking: Everything You Need to Know to Make Fabulous FoodGordon Ramsay's Fast Food: More Than 100 Delicious, Super-Fast, and Easy RecipesThe Dude Diet: Clean(ish) Food for People Who Like to Eat Dirty

    You might us well upgrade his cooking utensil game while you are it.

    Victorinox 8 Inch Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife

    Victorinox 8 Inch Fibrox Pro Chef's Knife

     

    A great all-round knife that at a great price. The Fibrox Pro 8″ Chef’s Knife is optimally weighted with high-quality, lightweight European steel that reduces hand and wrist fatigue, making it feel less like a knife and more like an extension of the hand. Perfectly suited for dicing onions, mincing shallots, chopping herbs, crushing garlic, slicing meats of all varieties, and shredding cabbage, its versatility will quickly make it his go-to knife.

    Cuisinart Deluxe Stainless-Steel Grill Set

    Cuisinart Deluxe Stainless-Steel Grill Set

    • Grill set includes chef’s spatula, grill tongs, silicone basting brush, 4 pairs of corn holders, cleaning brush, and extra brush head
    • Also includes aluminum storage case–perfect for the on-the-go griller
    • Durable stainless-steel tool construction
    • Elongated handles; convenient handle rings for hanging
    • Spatula has built-in bottle opener

    Time to Play

    DMI Bristle Dartboard in Oak Finish Cabinet

    DMI Bristle Dartboard in Oak Finish Cabinet

    All work and no play makes for a dull guy.  How about spicing up their games room with a dartboard, darts, and oak cabinet.

    Christmas & Holiday Gift Guides

    Christmas-Gift-Guide2-1[13]Christmas Gifts for the Men in Your Life | Women In Your Life | In-Laws| Teens | Elementary School Aged | Explorers and Adventurers | Cooks & Foodies

    Escape the City

    Well I was supposed to be on the road right now.  On the first short first leg of a road trip.  I was supposed to be eating at the Park Cafe right now but plans have a way of running into real life.

    But let’s step back a second.

    Ford CanadaFord Canada was cool enough great enough cool and great enough to lend us a 2016 Ford Escape which as you may know, is my favorite vehicle of all time.  Wednesday Wendy and I saw an Alfa Romero parked at The Springroll and while amazed to see it in Saskatoon, at this stage of life, I’d take an Escape (which Ford has for a week).

    2016 Ford Escape

    Not only has Ford lent me the Escape, they told me to get lost with it for the weekend.  After debating going south to Val Marie (home of NHL great Brian Trottier) and Grasslands National Park or north to Prince Albert National Park (home of noted fraud Grey Owl), we chose north for two reasons.  There is nothing to do in Grasslands National Park and Mark had a football game last night so driving 12 hours to get there and back is more than I wanted for two days.  (I’m not hating on Grasslands National Park or Val Marie, we are going down there for May Long Weekend next year for no other reason to get photos of the signs that say, “Do Not Step on the Burrowing Owls”)

    Speaking of Mark’s football game, last night we went to a wet and cold SMF Field at Gordie Howe Bowl to watch Mark’s team get destroyed by Prince Albert.  Mark played well though and on the last series, he took a knee.  We wandered out of the stands to see what was up.  I was wondering if he took a blow the head.  Nope, he took a hard hit to the kidneys and was vomiting up blood.

    To spare some details, he was hurt but will be okay and we had him checked out.  We talked about cancelling the trip or just Oliver and I going but he’ll be okay.  So this morning we let Mark get a bit more sleep (a plan that the dog did not buy into)  He is in a lot of pain this morning but he is good to go.  I have a list of things to watch for but if none of those things happen, he should be okay.  If not, in the words of The Guess Who, we’ll be “Heading back to Saskatoon.”  That didn’t stop me from suggesting that because of him getting hurt, we change his name to Tony Romo.

    So right away we will be leaving for breakfast a little later than we anticipated but Mark is claiming the heated front seat in the Escape and will try to grab some sleep on the drive up to Prince Albert National Park.  As if he will be sleeping.  The Escape has ESPN Radio which means that we will be listening to countless stories about Vin Scully and college football today.   We will bond without talking.

    So breakfast awaits.  Then a trip to Waskesiu via the site of the Battle of Fish and the Batoche National Historic Site.  Then we will go through St. Louis (where we will again have an argument over whether or not that bridge was ever safe for cars) and then Prince Albert.

    We will post photos and more stories tomorrow. 

    Some quick family updates

    I get asked all of the time if Mark is going to keep working at Safeway though the school year.  The answer is yes.  He is working most weekends including the Labour Day weekend.  We had a long talk about what holidays were important to have off if possible like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and things like family birthdays and gatherings.  Then we talked about the non-important holidays where three times his regular pays was pretty important.  Labour Day fell into that this weekend.  It means that we are going to Moose Jaw to have wings at the Deja Vu Cafe while Mark is cutting fruit at Safeway.

    As for his money, some asked how we handle that.  It’s been pretty simple.

    • He wants $1000.00 for next year’s holidays which means that $40 a paycheck has to go into his savings account off the top.
    • Then he pays his cell phone account which $19 month to month via Virgin.  He gets texts and minutes but no data.
    • He has a travel and adventure journal, in it he has a list of the gear he wants for next year.  Things like new hiking boots and some other gear he wants to upgrade.  He keeps an eye for that stuff on sale.
    • Also he wanted to take care of Christmas presents.  He has Wendy’s birthday and Christmas gifts taken care of.  He tells me he has mine purchased and is waiting until closer to Christmas to get Oliver one of his gifts.  So yeah, he’s done.
    • Then when he gets paid, he takes all of the money that was left in his checking account and dumps it into his savings account for travel.  He has saved most of this money from this summer.

    The entire “It’s my money and I get to do with it what I want” doesn’t work in our household.  He’s not like that anyways.

    He is working while going back to school.  Safeway allows him to restrict his hours.  Not only that but he has a department manager that played sports and worked so he has one of Mark’s football schedules and is going to work around that.  It will be fine and if it isn’t, we will help him out.  I don’t know what means now that I have written it but I guess I could suit up and play football again, kind of like Sinbad in Necessary Roughness.

    For the record, I did go to YouTube as soon as I thought about Sinbad in Necessary Roughness.   Also, the movie holds up well.  As a side note, I was watching this in a hotel in Boston when the hotel caught fire. 

    Also while the rest of you were posting cute first day of school photos to Instagram, Oliver gets ready, walks to the door and goes, “Later”.  He’s a pro at this school thing now.

    A lot is going on here

    Jordon Cooper

    First of all, thanks to Mark for the photo.  I generally hate photos of me being taken which is why I am always behind the camera but the problem with being a part of a family of photographers is that they have cameras as well.

    Now you will notice the pockets in my shorts being wet.  It has just poured and was cold so I put my hands in my pockets.  This resulted in them looking like this.  You win some, you look like an idiot in others.  Thanks to Mark for capturing the essence of what it means to be a dad.

    I am off to find my cool, from this photo it looks like I lost it.

    Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park

    This is why we came to Yoho National Park.   “Takakkaw”, loosely translated from Cree, means something like “it is magnificent”. The falls are fed by the Daly Glacier, which is part of the Waputik Icefield.   Its highest point is 302 metres from its base.  The falls drop a total of 992 feet in four distinct steps, first dropping over two narrow plunges hidden within the slot canyon at the top of the falls (neither of which can be seen from the base of the falls). The river then hurtles 853 feet over the side of the Yoho Valley wall, then cascading down a narrow flume-like stairstep for an additional 94 feet.

    Yoho is where the big mountains are.  The drive to Takakkaw Falls both terrified and inspired the family.  It was worth the trip before we even got there.  I have never visited the park before and I can’t wait to return next summer.

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    Some of Parks Canada famed red chairs.Takkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkIMGP3191Takkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkIMGP3212Takkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National Park

    The appropriately named Cathedral Mountain.Takkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkIMGP3228Takkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkIMGP3232Takkakaw Falls in Yoho National Park

    The tradition of dunking one’s head in frozen water continues on.Takkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkIMGP3236Takkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkTakkakaw Falls in Yoho National ParkIMGP3251Takkakaw Falls in Yoho National Park